*A guest post by John Devlin, Author of Dogsbarn.com
Losing a beloved pet can be devastating and many owners feel grief similar to losing a family member. However, there will come a point when you will want to celebrate your four-legged friend’s life and remember the happy times you spent together. Here is a list of 13 ways to memorialise your best friend.
Memorialising Your Pet:
Plant a tree
This is a popular way of memorialise your pet and with good reason, planting a tree can be a great comfort. Not only will it continue to grow for years to come, but it can also provide a place to reflect on the precious memories you shared together.
Alternatively there are companies online that can either dedicate an existing tree in a wood or forest to your pet, or provide you with a kit to plant in your own garden. You can incorporate your pet’s ashes into the planting ceremony if you wish or not, it’s entirely up to you.
Popular memorial trees include Magnolia, Oak, and Apple, which when the blossom appears in spring is symbolic of hope and new life. For those who do not have the room for a full-scale tree in their gardens, why not build a memory garden for your pet either in a sheltered corner or even in a planter? You could name it after your pet for example “Roxy’s garden” including their picture and date of birth and plant herbs or wildflowers to commemorate them.
You have a number of options here you can either have an item of jewellery made with a photo of your pet or their date of birth to remember them. Perhaps place their picture into a locket. Another option is to buy jewellery which either contains, or is made up of your pet’s ashes. While having your pet’s ashes turned into a glittering diamond is expensive there are many companies offering memorial jewellery at reasonable prices. This is a fantastic way to memorialise your pet and keep your beloved companion close to you forever.
Make a mosaic memorial stone
Making something yourself to remember your pet can be extremely cathartic and this memorial is easy and a great to do with children.
You will need
- Quick drying cement
- A mould
- Decorations – glass beads, glow in the dark stars, mosaic tiles, polished stones – whatever you think looks nice
- Something pointed for writing
- Letter stamps, a laminated photo of your pet, paint, dog tag (optional)
- Polyurethane coating
The opportunities to create something completely unique are limitless.
- mixing the cement to the manufacturer’s instructions in an old bucket using a trowel.
- Scoop the mixture into the mould to the required thickness and smooth the top.
- Leave to dry for up to an hour (you can test consistency by drawing a short line with a stick if it holds its shape the mixture is ready to decorate)
- Finish by decorating in any way you choose make sure any stones, mosaics, beads etc are well anchored in the cement,
If you want to include a photo of your pet make sure it is laminated. After leaving to dry for another 24 hours you can add paint to your memorial, the following day, add a few coats of polyurethane to protect the stone, leave to dry again before placing in its permanent position.
One of the most fulfilling ways to remember your pet while helping other animals in need is to set up a tribute fund or donate to charity in their memory. Many UK animal charities offer this service and one of the best is the guide dogs for the blind. You can set up a tribute fund and have a puppy named after your pet or donate money and be listed in their “paws for thought” memorial book. There is also the opportunity to purchase a brick in the paths of remembrance at the breeding and training centres, or purchase a guiding star at Christmas. Other charities have similar tributes; you can buy a memorial bench at Battersea or plaque at the Blue Cross. This is an excellent way of memorialising your pet whilst helping these excellent charities continue their work.
Light a candle
For centuries, across all beliefs, lighting a candle has been a way of remembering a lost loved one. A way to spend a moment of reflection and honour their memory. There are many beautiful memorial candles available, whether you are mourning a parrot, guinea pig or Cavapoo and you can designate a specific time each day or week to light the flame and spend some time with the precious memories. Alternatively you can light a virtual candle online with one of the numerous pet loss forums and message boards. Sharing your grief with others in the same situation which can be beneficial to the grieving process
Make a scrapbook or memory box
This is another cheap and easy way to celebrate the life of your pet. Whether you have a horse, dog, budgie or guinea pig you are likely to have tons of photos and memorabilia such as collars, favourite toys etc. There are many ways to put these together in a Scrapbook. They are available in several colours and styles and you can write stories of the special times you spent together. Additionally you can include photos or perhaps purchase a pretty storage box where you can keep all your precious memories.
Hug a pillow
Incorporating your pet’s ashes into jewellery and paperweights is all very well. Sometimes you just want to be able to give your beloved pet one more hug. If this sounds like you, there are companies online that make custom cushions and pillows. What makes these unique is that you can enclose a small pouch of ashes in the centre. Alternatively, why not get a cushion cover printed with your pet’s photo? You can stuff the pillow yourself and include a sealed bag of your best friend’s ashes which you can cuddle for eternity.
Commission a portrait
There are countless companies and artists that can create a portrait of your dog. The artist will work from a favourite photograph for a reasonable price in various media. The advances in technology mean that laser engraving is becoming increasingly popular, so you are not limited to traditional canvasses. Why not have your dog or cat’s picture engraved onto glass or marble? Consider an abstract work which portrays your deceased pet’s energy, or for those who don’t have the funds to buy a painting why not experiment with one of the online photo editors. These can add colours and effects to photographs giving them a unique feel then have them printed onto a canvas.
Obviously, this is not for everyone but having a memorial tattoo is becoming more popular. As with the jewellery you can either have a regular tattoo with either a portrait of your pet, a quote or poem. In some places, it is even possible to have a small amount of the ashes mixed with the tattoo ink. This can then be used the same way as a regular tattoo. This is a growing trend but only a select few tattooists perform commemorative or ritual tattoos. It is important if you are considering this as a way of memorialising your pet to choose someone who is familiar with the process.
Start a blog
Online memorials are becoming extremely popular and are a great way to share stories and memories of your lost pet. Whether you set up a special Facebook page, Instagram or start your own blog, it can be an extremely cathartic way of coping with your grief while helping others in the same situation. Having a permanent record to look back on can help when you are struggling with grief. Including happy memories will make you smile each time you log onto the page.
Write a poem
Many of us find it difficult to express our feelings of grief and it can help to write things down. Why not try to write a poem dedicated to your canine companion? You don’t have to be Keats, a simple tribute expressing your love will be fine. It doesn’t even have to rhyme. If you don’t want to do it yourself there are many online, such as the rainbow bridge poem which you can print for free. Place in a special frame, personally decorated as a fitting tribute.
These are becoming increasingly popular as a way of remembering your pet. They can be personalised, durable and can be attached to any smooth surface like car windows. The advantage is that you don’t need to be home to feel close to your pet. So even if you are travelling you will always have a memory of your faithful friend close by.
Offer lots of creative ways for pet owners to pay tribute to their beloved pets. There is also a range of pet cremation tribute products, ranging from caskets, urns, memorials and keepsakes to keep as a decorative piece in the home or to make a special place outside
It doesn’t matter how you choose to remember your beloved pet. The important thing is that looking back on the precious memories you shared to help you through the grief. Hopefully that brings a smile back to your face, just like they did.